All posts filed under: little ones

Astrantia Roma | edge of evening

Solstice in three parts

A couple of weekends ago I went to Bath with friends. We were there to celebrate A-M’s 50th birthday. I remember, so clearly, trying to leave the house for her 40th birthday party, at a community centre five minutes up the road from our Colliers Wood flat. T was a little under two weeks old. I was sitting on the bed feeding her and each time I thought that she was finished & I would be able to slip out, a blush of pink would rise on her face, clouding to red & a curl of displeasure would appear around her mouth, before she again began to cry & I again began to feed her. Late, sometime after nine, I did slip out and felt all the strange vulnerability one feels out in the world postpartum, without an obvious pregnancy or a tiny baby to signal to people that they shouldn’t knock into you, should treat you with an exaggerated care and concern. I must’ve stayed less than half an hour. A decade later and …

Postcard from last week: the weeks/the years

I think that the weeks are rolling by. Then I start to think that the months are rolling by. The weather is cold, mostly grey, and it’s hard to reconcile with the fact that it’s May. There are still flowers on the magnolia, hiding behind the soft flush of new leaves. The wisteria, which we planted last spring, unfurled leaves of copper-tinted green which were all frazzled in the heavy frost last week. The budding leaves of the hibiscus too are curled with frost damage. The lawn, each year narrower than the year before, has been bolstered by new turf along one edge. The other side is patiently waiting its turn. The new grass is growing thick and lush, several shades darker than the rest of the lawn. We went to France for Easter. Early one morning, I climbed out of the bedroom window & down the stone steps to the garden to go for a run. As I left the thick walls of the house my emails came through and I found myself looking at the Pip-Pop’s school acceptance. …

The Baby in the Mirror by Charles Fernyhough | edge of evening

The Baby in the Mirror

She wove language from the plainest of threads. Before she could talk, she could spin lengths of undifferentiated sound, just by voicing an outbreath and letting the noise push out on a flow of exhaled air. By eight weeks she could shape her mouth to make a contented ur-ur, expressing satisfaction at the way the world looked and the fact that she was at the centre of it. Her growing awareness of reality meant multiplying objects of desire, new ways for her material ambitions to be thwarted.The Baby in the Mirror by Charles Fernyhough It’s strange, but I’ve read so much about motherhood that it’s easy to overlook how very little I’ve read about fatherhood. Nicolson Baker’s wonderful Room Temperature. Peter Carey’s essay A Letter to Our Son. I think of Gilead but although that is a wonderful book of fatherly love, it is, of course, written by a mother not a father. It doesn’t amount to much. So it was wonderful to read The Baby in the Mirror, a tender and searching account of the first three years of life from a …

3, 6, 9

3, 6, 9

Although everything I write is, in its way, about them, I don’t write that much about them here. Partly this is because I thought I’d only just given you an update about them, but it seems two years have passed since this. So, here we go. There was the annual beautiful chaos of T’s birthday party a few weeks ago. Thirteen girls this year, plus the two brothers. Craft inside — ceramic pens on birds, hearts & mugs — then pizza at the table at the bottom of the garden. Spontaneous French skipping, then pass-the-parcel and the crazy ‘chocolate game’. T threw her arms around each of her friends as they arrived at the front door and her delight, as always, reminded me of her sitting on the step waiting for the first guest to arrive at her second birthday party & her total joy when the doorbell went. She looked ridiculously beautiful in her own inimitable style — wearing one of her dresses from our wedding last year over three-quarter length leggings, her long hair clipped …

Anna Karenina | edge of evening

Anna Karenina

Though it was a chore to look after all the children and stop their pranks, thought it was hard to remember and not mix up all those stockings, drawers, shoes from different feet, and to untie, unbutton and retie so many tapes and buttons, Darya Alexandrovna, who had always loved bathing herself, and considered it good for the children, enjoyed nothing so much as this bathing with them all. To touch all those plump little legs, pulling stockings on them, to take in her arms and dip those naked little bodies and hear joyful or frightened shrieks; to see the breathless faces of those splashing little cherubs, with their wide, frightened and merry eyes, was a great pleasure. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy translated by Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky And it’s proving a great pleasure, too, to read Anna Karenina. I hadn’t tried it for years and years, but this time something has stuck, and after never making it past the first book before, I’m now over halfway and hoping that it never ends. It’s not Anna …

Mog's Christmas Calamity by Judith Kerr | edge of evening

We love: Christmas 2015

It’s that time of the year when life starts clipping along at an alarming rate. We enjoyed the Pip-Pop’s ‘big 3’ weekend & have now reached a hitherto unknown shore in our parenting lives: for the first time, our three-year-old is also our youngest. We’re beyond nappies and now, after the grand dismantling that took place on Sunday, beyond cots too. So, birthday over, it’s now all about Christmas. And I mean all about Christmas. The school Christmas Fair (the one I once took a two-day-old baby to!) is tomorrow. One child is singing at the Christmas market by the Cathedral this lunchtime. Another is practising his songs at pre-school for a slot at a nearby village church’s Christmas Fair next week. The school Christmas plays are next week. An innkeeper’s costume has been sourced from the lovely lady at the charity shop who spends all year turning old curtains into bespoke nativity costumes. The child who auditioned for a ‘big’ part and came home in tears because she’s Donkey number 3 has been consoled and is ready to make donkey ears over …

Into the forest

I’m alone in the house. The Pip-Pop, now two and three-quarters, started at forest pre-school this morning. He’s the exact age that the other two were when they became a big sister/brother. Sometimes that seems very small, but most often it seems plenty big enough. He’ll be going to pre-school one morning a week to start with, then gradually increasing until after Christmas he’ll be doing his fifteen funded hours. He’s been really excited about going. He thinks that he looks like a fire engine in his new red waterproof dungarees. We dropped the older two at school, walked back to the house together hand-in-hand. As I strapped him into his car seat he said, ‘Mumma, why do I have to have my first day without you?’ I told him I didn’t know, but that it would be a lot of fun. When I got home again, I didn’t know what to do because there was so much that I wanted to do. To read, to write, to go for a walk alone. Even to …

Ongoingness

Half-term. A long weekend staying with my mum. A two-and-a-half year old who has just given up his daytime nap. A five year old who has brought home the class bear, Bertie, and his diary — over the holiday. An eight year old whose social life is now so developed that we either don’t see her all day, or we have an extra child with us all day & don’t see either of them. (Except at mealtimes, obviously.) Today, dark skies; furious showers of rain. Four children promised a picnic, who sat on a rug in the living room and picnicked there. I sat with them, leaning against the sofa, wondering why this felt like one of the most chilled out times of the holiday. But, there are small moments, and I’m trying to use them. Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness is on a shelf in the kitchen. Twice this week I’ve sat, coffee in hand, reading it. Thinking about each of its spare pages. Today I sat there while the boys listened to Roald Dahl reading …

Garden blues

The eighth birthday party has come and gone. Eight girls and two little brothers sitting round a table stringing beads onto bracelets, sandwiching their pictures between glass cabochons & pendant backings, gluing pink plastic roses to hair clips. Eating pizza, followed by scoops of vanilla ice cream swimming in chocolate sauce and hundreds & thousands. Running in the garden. Playing pass the parcel (commonly known in our house by the Moose’s name for it: parcel parcel). Chatting about their dreams (this particuluarly funny to listen to); discussing their creations. It seemed to be a good one. We remembered her at two — how excited she was when her first guest arrived & she thundered along the landing to peer down the stairs & see who it was. And now Monday lunchtime (or at least it was when I first wrote this). The older children are at school. The Pip-Pop, who at almost two and a half is resisting napping more and more, is sleeping after a morning swim with his best friend. I’m looking over …

Risking failure more minor

“Difficultly then, whether of life or of craft, is not a hindrance to an artist.[…] Just as geological pressure transforms ocean sediment to limestone, the pressure of an artist’s concentration goes into the making of any fully realized work. Much of beauty, both in art and in life, is a balancing of the lines of forward-flowing desire with those of resistance — a gnarled tree, the flow of a statue’s draped cloth.” “Leaving the refuge of silence demands the willingness to be seen, to be judged. It demands that we turn away from our desires to please, to fit in, to spare the feelings of those we love, and also from our desire to create a shapeliness that does not reflect how awkward, unfinished, and ambivalent actual experience is. For the writer, the person of public speech, it demands risking the fates of Mandelstam or Horace, Sor Juana or Christopher Smart. Or more likely, risking failure more minor: boredom, triviality, confusion. Risking seeing that we are lesser beings than we had hoped.” Nine Gates: Entering …